The Wildcats played a great first half of basketball against Maryland but did not have enough in the tank to close out the game as they fell to the Terrapins, 67-44 on Wednesday night in College Park, Md. The loss brings ACU to 0-3 for the first time since the 1990-91 season, and gives Maryland their first win of the young season.
ACU led Maryland going into halftime, up 30-29 as they shot 40 percent from the field and were 6-11 from the three-point line. Sophomore guard Parker Wentz was exceptional in the first half with 13 points on 5-6 shooting, including 3-4 from downtown.
“Our guys executed, we played well and we were smart,” head coach Joe Golding said. “We have a brutal non-conference schedule so we have to be focused on us and how we play, night in and night out.”
The Wildcats were able to lead at halftime despite having zero trips to the foul line, compared to the Terps’ 4-6 free throws made. Junior guard Harrison Hawkins added seven points in the first half while sophomore forward Austin Cooke put together six points and three rebounds.
The second half began promisingly, as the Wildcats would give up the lead, but kept the game relatively close within the first four to five minutes. The offense that had flowed so easily for them in the first 15 minutes of play, however, would become nonexistent as they quickly fell further and further behind. Maryland’s size and defense would prove to be too much for the Wildcats, especially as the Terps made clutch three-point shots to shift the momentum to the home squad.
“From about the 13-minute mark to the eight-minute mark, we really just lost our composure and got away from a lot of stuff that we needed to be doing,” Golding said. “It allowed them to get into a rhythm and then next thing you know, here come the threes.”
Hawkins converted a three-point make with 14:12 left in the half to make it 44-38 Wildcats, but that would be the final time ACU would score in the game. The Terps would from then go on a 23-0 run to end the game. The Wildcats shot a dismal 20 percent from the field in the second half, while Maryland found their shooting stroke with a 46 percent field goal completion. ACU also lost the battle in the paint, as they were outscored 45-12 and out-rebounded 41-23.
“They started to throw it down low in the second half more than they did before and we just couldn’t handle them,” Golding said. “They’d go low and then kick it out to the three and from then they’d convert. We have to work on rotations and to keep competing no matter what the score is.”
Wentz and Hawkins led all ACU scorers with 13 points apiece. Cooke was the other Wildcat to reach double digits in points, as he registered 12 points to go along with his six rebounds. Maryland was led by sophomore forward Jake Layman who had 19 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Sophomore forward Charles Mitchell had a double double with 15 points and 11 boards.
The Wildcats will continue their road trip against the University of Iowa on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 so far this season.